Kidneys filter the blood and eliminate the waste products, while keeping essential minerals and substances. All the waste from the blood goes out of the body via urine. Kidneys or one kidney (which is the more common case) may get infected with some harmful bacteria, causing pyelonephritis (bacterial kidney infection). Escherichia Coli and Kidney Infection
Bacteria Escherichia coli (E.coli) are very commonly found to be the cause of pyelonephritis. These bacteria live in the bowels and through urethra they could travel into the bladder and urethers, causing infections of the lower urinary tract (UTI, urinary tract infections), cystitis or the kidneys. Women are more prone to UTI, because of their anatomy which makes urethra nearer to anus and also shorter than in men.
Kidney infection may appear without prior bladder problem, especially due to the blockage of the kidneys and conditions such as enlarged prostate or kidney stones. Additionally, infection may also come to your kidneys from some other part of the body.
Possible Symptoms and Complications
Kidney infection can be acute or chronic, depending on the duration of the problem. Acute kidney infection is commonly seen to develop in just a few hours or maximally 24hours. Patients usually have very high body temperature (more than 38°C), experience some shivering, feel sick, vomit and suffer from pain in the lower back. Some people suffering from pyelonephritis may also experience different problems with urination: stinging, burning and urge to urinate frequently and urgently. There might also be some blood in urine or a change of color and smell (cloudy, colored, smelly urine).
Pregnant women, diabetes patients and elderly, as well as people with weakened immune system, urinary catheter or persistent kidney infection are considered to be high risk groups for development of complications after kidney infections caused by E.coli. These patients may suffer from swelling of the kidneys, kidney abscesses or even sepsis (blood poisoning, when bacteria enter the blood flow).
What to Do?
In situation when you know you have kidney infection do everything you can to prevent dehydration. This is even more important for pregnant women and elderly patients.
Fever, discomfort and pain may be resolved using some OTC (over the counter) pain killer drugs, such as Aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen. In most cases people feel better after day or two, but if it is not the case, consult your doctor and he will prescribe some antibiotics. Always follow their advice to the letter and use the medication exactly as they were prescribed to you. Some people may need surgery, to resolve obstruction of the kidneys (due to kidney or urethra stone).